The seventh CREW fieldtrip for the 2013/2014 season was held at Sitamani in Boston. A beautiful patch of grassland which Christeen and Phillip Grant have looked after for the past 22 years – ensuring there have been no cattle grazing and trampling the plants. Christeen compiled this report which includes photos by Christeen, Peter Warren, Nkululeko Mdladla and Nikki Brighton.
What a stunning flower filled day with plenty of sunshine! 13 enthusiastic people accompanied by Tigger our 19 year old cat, visited our wild flower ‘garden’, Sitamani.
Jenny Myhill kindly gave Tigger a lift when the grass got very long!
Some lovely new finds including two orchids. Habenaria lithophila, final identification was due to the three lower petal lobes, which are long and very slender.
Disa patula, which at first glance looked like a stunted, late flowering Satyrium longicauda, had us puzzled.
Jocelyn Sutherland spotted the distinctive ‘pixie cap’ which led to deeper investigation.
The next ground orchid seen was Eulophia tenella, the buds just about to open.
Linum thunbergii, a shining, tiny yellow flower with round petals and reddish buds, was the third ‘new’ flower find.
The final new identification was a small tree, Rock Crowned-Medlar, Pachystigma macrocalyx.
According to the Pooley’s field guide, it is a small tree up to 4m, found in rocky outcrops in grassland. The leaves are quite thick and densely hairy.
In the rocks beneath it, growing quite profusely was a mystery flower. We do love a mystery flower! Please can anyone can help with an ID?
Although the other flowers had been seen before, they kept us mesmerized, and looking further in the grass and photographing everything we came across.
There was an abundance of Killickia pilosa, (old name Satureja reptans thanks to Peter Warren for the new name), sending a waft of fresh mint as we walked over them. We all sampled the delicious mint tasting leaves, laughingly calling them San sweets!
Amongst others these were the flowers / seedheads we found: Aloe boylei seedheads,
which, despite it’s name, comes in yellow and red too!
and the dainty little Crassula brachypetala,
the very spotty Gladiolus ecklonii
& Gladiolus sericeovillosus seedheads,
Hermannia woodii, (we all adore the dainty bell flowers on this plant)
Kniphofia laxiflora in both yellow and orange forms,
the graceful Polygala hottetotta.
We scrambled up the rocks to photograph Printzia pyrifolia,
Rhynchosia adenodes, (used in traditional medicine to treat dysentery in calves)
Schizocarpus nervosa seeds (used to be called Scilla nervosa)
Always interesting to find tiny invertebrates (often the pollinators) in the flowers – like this crab spider on the Sebaea sedoides
and this Gaudy Commodore butterfly (summer form) perched on the inflorescence of Kniphofia buchananii.
Striga bilabiata – a parasitic plant known as Small Witchweed
beautiful stands of Watsonia densiflora which have been particularly spectacular this year.
Zaluzianskya microsiphon (Short tubed Drumsticks)
and Zornia capensis.
The final list of plants recorded for the day was over 50. The Durban Bot Soc members who joined us were pleased they made the effort to explore some of the special Midlands mist-belt grassland.
Nkululeko Mdladla filmed the action, so watch out for the CREW movie coming soon!
Interested in joining the CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers)? – email firstname.lastname@example.org Next outings 5 March to Blinkwater (contact Suvarna 082 354 5649 and 21 March to Mbona Estate in Karkloof. During Autumn, we will host a workshop on plant collecting and pressing in Fort Nottingham.